This chapter is tagged (labeled) with: 

Ch. 17: Pearls, Aboriginal Use & Discovery in Mound Graves

Ch. 17: Pearls, Aboriginal Use & Discovery in Mound Graves Page of 650 Ch. 17: Pearls, Aboriginal Use & Discovery in Mound Graves Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
ABORIGINAL USE OF PEARLS                   511
extracted. He states, however, that it is a pearly, nacreous shell, re­sembling that of the ordinary pearl-oyster. In these masks are also other shells, among them a red shell, probably a spondylus, almost as red as coral. The mother-of-pearl is of special interest as it is quite possible that the shell itself was known, and it may be that pearls also formed part of a commerce that existed between the coast and the in­terior.
We are informed by Mr. E. P. Dieseldorf, of Coban, Republic of Guatemala, that he has never observed pearls in the pre-Columbian graves in Guatemala; he had, however, frequently found marine shells, whole, and elaborated in connection with jadeite beads.
In a personal communication, Mr. Thomas Gann, of Yucatan, states that, in excavating a mound at San Antonio, near the mouth of the Rio Hondo, in Yucatan, he uncovered a small stone cyst or chamber, containing two perforated, pear-like ornaments of considerable size, together with portions of a human skeleton, painted pottery, etc. He also states that ornaments such as beads, gorgets, and ear-pend­ants, made from the pearly shell of both the oyster and the conch, are of common occurrence in many sepulchral mounds in British Hon­duras and in Yucatan, and he notes the fact that pink conch pearls are found in considerable numbers at the present day along the coast of British Honduras. There is no especial fishing for pearls, and they are found only incidentally in conchs which have been gathered for food. These pearls are sold by fishermen in Balize at prices varying from two or three dollars to twenty or thirty apiece. In size they range from that of a large pin's head to that of a small pea.
Mrs. Marie Robinson Wright informs us that she has never found pearls in the Bolivian graves, although they are quite plentiful in Bo­livia to-day, and hundreds of them are offered in the markets. The pretty girls wear them as earrings and in their topos.
There is no doubt that pearls existed long before the advent of man, both in the fresh-water and in the marine form. This is more clearly evidenced by Sir Charles Lyell, who calls attention to the fact that the fresh-water mussel (Unto litt oralis Gray), formerly found in abun­dance at Grays Thurrock, Essex, no longer exists in England, but occurs in France, showing that not only had this mollusk been unseen by any Englishman, but that the form had become extinct in an entire country. Thus, both the pearl shell of the ocean and the pearl-mussel of the river, for many centuries produced pearls, which passed away with the shell itself.
A great number of fossil Unios were collected by Barnum Brown from the Laramie clays, 130 miles northwest of Miles City, Montana.
Ch. 17: Pearls, Aboriginal Use & Discovery in Mound Graves Page of 650 Ch. 17: Pearls, Aboriginal Use & Discovery in Mound Graves
Table Of Contents bullet Annotate/ Highlight
Kunz. The Book of the Pearl.
Suggested Illustrations
Other Chapters you may find useful
Other Books on this topic
bullet Tag
This Page